RUSSELLS Creek and Woodford are preparing to meet in the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association two-day grand final after contrasting semi-finals.
It was a sense of relief for Creek after edging home by three wickets against reigning premier Brierly-Christ Church in a low-scoring encounter.
The Eels, thanks to a century from captain Nick Butters, piled on the pressure against Port Fairy, winning by 78 runs.
The Bulls were in trouble at 7-16 on day one against Creek before Campbell Love (32 for 140 balls) and Lachi Rooke (19 from 64) added some respectability to the scoreboard.
The Bulls cobbled together 81 runs as Creek's Matthew Petherick tore through their batting line-up with 6-21 off 18 overs.
Russells Creek co-coach Darren Loft said he was a nervous spectator during his side's run chase on Sunday. Blake Evans scored the winning runs in the 42nd over.
Nick Butters departs, caught on the boundary for 119 off 136 deliveries - including 13 fours & 3 sixes! 💙💛— Woodford Eels C.C (@WoodfordEelsCC) March 14, 2021
Simply outstanding batting in another big game from @butters_38. Here’s another angle of him bringing up the ton! We move to 4/189 off 57 overs. pic.twitter.com/Mc2zzerNjw
"It was hard watching. The middle bit when we were five (wickets down) and still needing 40 runs to win, that's when you're nervous," he said.
"Forty is so far away, 20 is so far away. We were down to needing six runs at one stage and in reality we still had four wickets in hand but you're still nervous.
"There shouldn't even be any pressure there; it is all above the shoulders."
Loft praised Evans who contributed 18 runs batting down the order after Cam Williams (38) was dismissed.
"He's our main man, we lost him and heads dropped and Blake came in and steadied the ship and did the job," he said.
"(It was) relief. The pressure is always on the batting side."
Loft, who praised Jacob Lacy for his role since being promoted, said Creek's bowling display on day one was crucial.
"You're playing a semi-final against one of the best sides in the competition and to have them 7-16, you pinch yourself," he said.
"I got nervous then. We haven't got a great history of chasing runs. Every time it ticked over into 30, into 40, into 50, I am thinking 'get them out'."
Creek was also a player down with opening batsman Tim Ryan ill overnight and spending time in hospital.
Butters put on a captain's knock for Woodford, making 119 off 136 balls to put the Pirates on the back foot.
Butters' innings was the catalyst for the Eels' demanding 8-283 off their allotted 80 overs.
It came after the Eels found themselves struggling at 2-24 early on.
"I was a bit overdue," Butters said of his knock.
"I was pretty stoked, personally I hadn't made a run for a while so it was nice to get a few and put us in a good spot.
"There were no demons in the wicket, it was just a bit unlucky the two guys went out early.
"We were pretty confident if we nudged the ball around and hit the bad balls that it would get easier. I thought Kory (Howlett) batted really well too."
Woodford is one step away from winning all three WDCA flags - it's already collected the twenty20 and one-day crowns - this season.
The Eels won the inter-association Sungold Cup too.
"We're pretty pumped for that opportunity, obviously no one has done it yet," Butters said.
"To get the four would be pretty big for our club."
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